“At age 7 I did my first favor- I took a gun across the block.”
Growing up in East LA you either are in a gang or you are a nerd. I fell in between. My best friend was in a gang so I simply followed him. I was baptized in the Mormon Church at age 8, but was inactive by age 10.
We were just neighborhood kids and gang members just watched over us. Dad was just kind of out there. Did drugs himself, abusive at times, never really involved or around much.
At 13 I started hanging around the tag crew. We tagged graffiti and that’s when we started to get associated with multiple gangs. When I turned 14 we moved away and lived in San Fernando Valley. Dad was no longer in the picture at this point. This is when I started selling meth. And did my first line at 14. I got completely addicted. I’d miss maybe one day here and there, but I did it daily.
At 15 moved back to the LA area. Went back to my old neighborhood high school. I got reacquainted with my old friends. Started to hang with the meth heads and gangs. Kept dealing meth. By age 16 raves started getting big and I started popping a lot of ecstasy. By 18 I dropped out of high school and started selling ecstasy. I bought “a boat” (a thousand pills) and would sell them at raves. I would get paid to go to parties and sell X. Slacked off meth at this point.
At 20 I switched back to meth. I was completely hooked. I became a middle man, picked
up drugs, took it back to LA and distributed to other gangs so they could sell it. This messed with my mind a lot. Seeing folks get locked up, shot, killed, wondered who the “rats” were. Thought people were after me. Worried about getting snitched on. I was paranoid.
At 21 got arrested for selling weed. Spent 2 weeks in jail and put on probation. In and out of jail from there until 23.
At 23 I was bringing down a pound of meth to make a deal and a police offericer stopped me and asked “are you on probation?” I thought that was strange that he just stopped me and instantly asked that question profiling me. He came upon me and threw me to the concrete. I felt my world was over. It’s like everything just turned black.
I got interrogated. Just like in the movies. In a room, light over me, cop in my face. They wanted me to be a rat and snitch. I told them, “I’m not gonna die for your paycheck.” Their response, “People die every day.” They didn’t care about me. They just wanted me to be the rat.
I got sentence for 16 months in a women’s state prison: Twin-Towers Correctional facility. Still did drugs while in jail. We would get high off of “happy cards”. Someone sends you a recycled card, soaks it in water, dips it in meth, lets it dry, write a note, sends it to you, and you take pieces off, suck on it and get high.
First 2 months in solitary confinement. I kept rebelling against the deputies because I didn’t want to be in general public. I didn’t want to have to choose a side to associate with. This is when I started to pray to God. Got a bible and started to read it. After 2 months I went to general public. Met another girl who was also Mormon. She told me I should get a Book of Mormon.
I was a “long ranger” at first but knew I needed to choose a side. My new cell-mate wanted me to give it to her. I wasn’t going to do that. We fought for 6 minutes straight until the guards pulled us apart. After both of us fought like beasts nearly to the death she said to me, “okay we cool”. That’s when I became affiliated with her clique. That’s when I got my 3 dot tattoo on my eyebrow.
The tattoo was given to me with a nail and a staple.
They dipped it in lead and shampoo and tapped it into my skin. They supported me, protected me, and encouraged me to be better than what I was. They wanted me to go to the school dorm there in prison and gain life skills; this would get my sentence reduced. I got into the program and finished my time in the school dorm.
The same girl who was a Mormon I met in general public was also in the school dorm. I really got interested in the Book of Mormon and religion. I promised God that if I got out I’d go back to church. I finally got out… first thing I did… Get High. That continued for about 4 months. I started to feel disgusting and I remembered that I was happier in prison studying the Book of Mormon and gaining a relationship with God.
I met up with an old friend to get high and he ditched me. I was a long way away from home. I was all alone. I stole a bike to make my journey home. I came upon a church and I was so tired. I found a box and slept in it that night. Three blocks from home the next day the bike just broke; completely fell apart. I walked the rest of the way home. I was so tired by the time I got home. I went to sleep. I stayed there for a month, mostly in bed. I wanted to get off the drugs. I detoxed. My muscles would spasm. I would scream out. I would throw up and cry because I wanted meth so badly. I wanted it so badly. I couldn’t sleep. The pain was so bad. It was hell.
Two sister missionaries, one from Mexico and the other from Boston, knocked on my door. It was perfect timing. They began to teach me the gospel. Yes, I wanted meth, yes I wanted drugs during those times with the sisters, but I knew they were God sent! These sister missionaries taught me about Jesus Christ and I learned the atonement. It was the atonement that helped me overcome. The atonement IS REAL.
I created a completely new environment for myself. I knew that was critical to stay on track.
About 2 months later I met an older gentlemen, a missionary also, that told me about a program called “Pathway” and I knew I needed that program. I just felt it. So I joined it. I was now going to school, I joined a gym and I started to train; martial arts (Israeli Self Defense) and resistance training. The gym was my safe place, my therapist, my outlet.
Once I finished Pathway I prayed and felt like I should apply to BYU-Idaho. I couldn’t believe it when I got in. I knew that was all God. I join the ROTC. I was given a waiver to join the ROTC because I had a felony; another blessing from God. My felony is now dropped to a misdemeanor. I am in the process of getting my 3 dot tattoo removed and a recruiter is now working with me to get me enlisted. I’m excited to for boot camp.
I want to see what I am capable of. That is what pushes me daily. I know that I can accomplish anything because I’ve already overcome the impossible. I want to rise above the natural person and see how far I can go. I am unstoppable! I never want to stay in one spot… ever. For me it’s not about how far I’ve come it’s about how far I can go.